The Best Children’s Books to Foster Kindness

With my own two children now being 5 and almost 8 years old, there is no doubt about the very real impact that reading has on their lives – not only for developing their minds and learning, but also for exploring new themes, problems, situations, characteristics and so much more. It is because of children’s books that we have had some tremendously beneficial conversations about different places, people, abilities, ideas.

I’ve shared previously about our family’s favorite books about differences in general and about disabilities, and today, I’ve rounded up our favorites that focus on a theme we could probably all use a little more: kindness!

With such a variety of books out there that highlight empathy, understanding and kindness, I try to avoid the ones in which the characters complain or constantly throw tantrums or call each other unkind names…Unless there is a very important lesson at the end, and we can talk through some of those issues. But there are so many wonderful children’s books that highlight compassion, empowering others, positivity and being kind – and reading these is a great way to reinforce these behaviors in young kids!

Here are some of our family’s favorite books with themes of kindness…children's books kindness and being kindA Girl with a Cape by Amy Logan. I met Amy when we both spoke at the Hearts at Home conference in 2015, and she is such a wonderful person to be around! We all love her book and its great message – and Brenna also love the leopard-print scarf it comes with 🙂

Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun by Maria Dismondy. A reader recommended this book to me, so I grabbed it from the library, and my kids loved it. The little girl in the book showcases what forgiveness looks like – as well as doing the right thing – and what it means to treat others well. This book could open up lots of conversations about how we treat others – definitely a great one for all ages!

Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud. In this book, the author writes about how, with all of our words and actions, we have the opportunity to fill or take away from someone’s “bucket.” When we use kind words, or do something nice, or even simply smile at someone, we fill their buckets up. And so the book challenges kids to always try to fill someone’s bucket.

Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts. The little boy Jeremy finds the shoes he wants but they’re too small. So he makes the tough decision to give his pair to a friend who needs them. A sweet story about selflessness and giving.

children's books kindness and being kind

The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig. Brian is a student that no one pays attention to – he feels invisible. Until a new student comes to school, and they connect. And as this new little boy includes Brian, it changes Brian’s world. The illustrations do a wonderful job showcasing his feelings, with Brian starting out black and white, and color emerging like the rest of his classmates as this little boy interacts with him, until he is fully colored at the end.

Paulie Pastrami Achieves World Peace by James Proimos. A silly story with a good lesson, about the impact that we can make when we treat people well and give of ourselves.

Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson. Maya is new to school, but Chloe and her friends won’t play with her. One day, Maya is suddenly gone and Chloe realizes that her chance to be kind – like a pebble in water spreading ripples – is now gone. A good opener to conversation about how we can try to right a wrong and try again to be nice to someone.

Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed by Emily Pearson. I absolutely LOVED this one, with its core message about how much impact ONE action can make and spread across the globe!

children's books kindness and being kindBloom With Mi by Amy Kavelaris. This book by my friend Amy is purely delightful. A sweet girl named Mi figures out how to spread kindness and love through giving.

What Does It Mean To Be Kind? by Rana DiOrio. This book outlines different ways to show kindness, from holding the door open for someone to forgiving someone who has hurt you. And the culminating message is that we can all make the world a more loving place to live when we are kind to each other.

Good People Everywhere by Lynea Gillen. This one contains endearing examples to inspire children to grow into grateful, caring, and giving people, and also includes activity pages to help kids practice skills for creating gratitude, compassion, and beauty in daily life.

How Kind! by Mary Murphy. The storyline of this book includes farm animals who each do one nice thing for each other and each recognize those kind acts provided by someone else, encouraging them to keep the chain of kindness going. It’s simple and positive.

children's books kindness and being kind

Anything else you would add to the list?

Give Your Child the World – through books! 

“When we make the world personal for our children, we make it easier for them to love it.”

The moment I read the description on the back cover of Jamie C. Martin’s new book, Give Your Child the World: Raising Globally Minded Kids One Book at a Time, I was ready to pour through it.

Since Brenna’s birth 4.5 years ago, I have seen firsthand the tremendous positive effect of simply learning about each other – learning about the why, how, where and especially the who of the people around us. Not what we think we see when we look at someone, but looking closer – getting to know someone’s story, who they are, and why they are who they are.

Give Your Child the World is a unique book… a resource book for parents to assist us in helping our kids learn about the world around them outside of their own little piece of it.

As the author writes in the book: “…what we have in common with our worldwide neighbors far outweighs what separates us. As children make that connection, it naturally develop compassion for their brothers and sisters around the globe and around the corner – because we all have similar needs, hopes, and desires. Great stories build an empathic foundation that leads to a life of service and concern for others.”

In Give Your Child the World, Jamie offers well-researched lists of children’s book, categorized by age groups (4-6, 6-8, 8-10 and 10-12) and by areas of the world (Asia, South America, and so on) with helpful summaries of the books.

As I read through it, I went a little overboard with the library requests because I was just so excited about these suggestions. We’re at least a handful of books in, and Connor and Brenna are absolutely loving it. Connor has been intrigued by the books like One World, One Day, which explores the fact that at the same moment in time, kids around the world are doing everything from having lunch to sleeping to getting ready for school. And Brenna’s favorite – no surprise here – has been What We Wear: Dressing Up Around the World 🙂

“Well-chosen words touch and transform our souls – making us want to be better than we are right now.”

Reading with our kids is a powerful act, and each new story expands a child’s world, giving them a broadened perspective and growing worldview – educating them that there is far more beyond their own small life. And then, that same story also has the power to immediately shrink that expanded worldview, helping a child to realize that despite vast differences in clothing, food, culture and work, the people in these faraway places are just that – people. People like me, people like you, people like your child.

What an incredible resource Give Your Child the World is – and what a gift to your kids, to offer them this worldview of other cultures, experiences, people.

And because I love this book so much, I’m giving away a copy today! Simply leave a quick comment, and I’ll choose a winner by Monday night, August 22!

Interested in reading more with your kids about differences and being yourself? You can download a guide to the best children’s books on differences and disabilities when you subscribe to my monthly email newsletter! My book, A Different Beautiful, is now available for order. Follow me on  Facebook and Instagram.